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Mark Wetzel, KSL TV, File

Troopers preparing now for lower DUI threshold

By Annie Knox, KSL | Posted - Jul. 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A first-in-the-nation law reducing Utah's DUI threshold does not take effect until Dec. 30 of this year, but troopers already are preparing for its start date.

And they say they won't use the statute to target just anyone on Utah's highways.

"Our biggest thing is that we really don't want to change the way we do business," Utah Highway Patrol Capt. Steve Winward told a legislative panel Wednesday at the state Capitol. "We want to ensure that we are arresting those that are impaired for DUI, and not really focus on the number of .05, but on the impairment."

Lawmakers in 2017 made Utah the first state in the nation to lower the legal blood alcohol content level for a drunken driving offense from .08 percent to .05 percent. The change takes effect Dec. 30.

In the meantime, Winward and his colleagues are hammering out a new Breathalyzer policy. They will only request breath tests from drivers who they suspect are impaired on Utah's highways, and not with everyone they come across, according to Winward.

The Utah Highway Patrol will give its troopers additional training and offer that training to police, Winward told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee. Prosecutors and judges will also receive training, he said.

Winward said his agency will also work to remind the public of the new threshold and dispel what he said is a myth — that just one drink can put people over the new, lower blood alcohol limit.

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